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The Iron Lady Review

January 8, 2012 1 comment

The Iron Lady is at its hearts a story about an old woman struggling with dementia who continually hallucinates about her dead husband reflects back on her life in politics.

Whilst, its about Margaret Thatcher, it could really be about any woman with dementia who has struggled in a man’s world. The political drama could quite easily have been replaced. The political drama served as window dressing. As someone who was born at the end of the Thatcher reign (i was born in 88) and has no memory or recollection of the time, I have no idea as to how she won three elections from watching the movie. I could understand how she won the first election, and with my knowledge of the period from talking to politicos and people who were around at the time that it was the Falklands war that made Thatcher not as hated as she was and therefore why she won a second election let alone a third. I don’t think I would have got that had I not known about the pride that winning the Falklands war gave to the United Kingdom.

I’ve just recently watched Miracle, a film about the 1980s US ice hockey team coming from a disadvantaged position and coming through to beat the Soviets, the best team in the world at that time having won 6 out of the last 7 Olympics. This was a film about ice hockey but I learnt more about the politics and America’s position at the time than I did about Thatcher’s role and the politics of the time in this film.

One of the other themes running through the movie was that Thatcher was a feminist icon. From what I know of Thatcher’s story, I could see how one might see that but from the film, if you aspire to that, God help us all. I felt they didn’t show how much of a struggle it was back in those days or how a grocer’s daughter becoming the Prime Minister is an incredible achievement enough. The feminism in that I can agree with but how she treated people afterwards was atrocious and this is what the film focuses on far more than rising to be PM.

For those on the left wondering whether the film glamourises Thatcher, fear not. I think it showed her as a bully and therefore incredibly weak. That might be my lily-livered liberalism though.

The film on a whole felt long and dragged out through some of the dementia scenes which as I’ve said previously is what the film is really about. Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent were fantastic though as was the whole cast.

Verdict: 2.5/5

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 DVD review

December 28, 2011 3 comments

Slight break from the political posts, I got Harry Potter 8 on dvd for xmas and wanted to review it. I warn you that this might turn out to be a Kermodian rant on the movie as well.

First port of call when you receive a DVD is to head straight to the Extras. (Or at least I do, mainly because I’ve seen the film, I want to see the backstage goss) So I’ll review the Extras first.

EXTRAs

Focus Points: Includes some fascinating behind the scenes footage. These are basically little featurettes of significant moments from the movie. They include:

  • Aberforth Dumbledore
  • Deathly Hallows Costume Changes – looks at how Lucius and Neville’s costumes have changed over the films.
  • Harry Returns to Hogwarts
  • The Hogwarts Shield
  • Room of Requirement Set
  • The Fiery Escape
  • Neville’s stand
  • Molly Takes Down Bellatrix – humorous
  • Final Farewells from Cast and Crew

The deleted scenes are always a favourite of mine to see. Its always interesting to see what scenes the director thought weren’t good enough for the film. In this case, I think David Yates was right to cut most of these scenes. The one scene that perhaps he shouldn’t have cut were the Aberforth scene. The bitterness coming off Aberforth was fantastic acting. There was a beautiful scene between Tonks and Lupin. Its a scene when Tonks first arrives at the battle and Tonks and Lupin embrace. It is the only mention to Teddy Lupin whether it was cut because of that, I do not know. As much as it was a beautiful scene, it wouldn’t have fitted in the movie and in fact that moment in the film where Lupin and Tonks are reaching out to hold hands but can’t quite reach is more beautiful because this scene was cut. I am glad though they included it in the DVD because it is a such a lovely scene with some fantastic acting to boot.

The Goblins of Gringotts featurette whilst somewhat interesting to see what went into making all the goblins and seeing all the dwarf actors. I’m not entirely sure it was necessary.

It was nice to see that they devoted a whole featurette on the women of HP. Showing the heroines don’t have to be glamourous, hot totties or ditzy dimbo princesses like they are in so other books and films. Instead they showed how the women of HP, from Hermione to Ginny and Molly were amazing and inspiring women. It was rather refreshing to see this extra and even more refreshing to have these women in HP.

Verdict on the Extras. 4/5.

Movie

That leads me to the movie. If you were to take the movie for what it is: a special effects movie, then it is a decent film. There is some crummy action movie dialogue that I know Dan Radcliffe was excited to say but left me cringing.

I don’t know how the movie managed to get the rave reviews that it did. It strikes me that the film is in effect what Twilight is to girls. I can see what the thought processes of the filmmakers. They sort of went “This is the last time, we’ll be filming a Harry Potter, lets get as much magical special effects in as possible. Drama, tension, they don’t matter what matters is that we see things exploding and cool special effects even if the plot doesn’t require them” In essence they went story, smory. its all about the special effects.

I’ve had grievances with all the Potter films, but I’ve been able to get over the grievances in time because the grievance was either something that I wanted to see from a fan pov and that they needed to cut the book down in order to fit everything in and I never felt they truly comprised the essence of the story. Thats not true for the final film.

I don’t think, I can ever forgive the filmmakers for this film for 2 reasons.

1) The changes they made, resulted in a substandard film. If your looking for a special effects movie, then its ok. But this film should have been so much more. The material was there to make a fantastically dramatic film on a par in my opinion with The King’s Speech, The Social Network and Inception.Yet the filmmakers fall so far short, that quality wise, those films are so far ahead that you can’t see them.

2) I felt they compromised on the story not just once but several times. One of the main thrusts of the books and the films is this good vs evil but within that there is this huge concept of racism and speciesism. In this movie, we would have seen it first when Harry is questioning Griphook. Griphook mentioned that Harry was an odd wizard for burying Dobby and for rescuing him, a goblin but then nothing more was made of it. In the book, however, this point was hammered home by the fact that under Voldemort’s regime, magical creatures like goblins and house-elves are seen as inferior and second-rate, not worthy of attention but the wand-carriers aren’t protesting. Griphook whilst he never explicitly says it effectively says that whilst wizards protest their own mistreatment, they don’t seem to be protesting as much for the mistreatment of other magical creatures. You have Hermione’s wonderful moment when she turns all political once again and says that they are protesting and that she as a mudblood has no higher authority under the new regime than Griphook does. As well as mentioning that it was Harry who set Dobby free and they or well Hermione has wanted House-elves freed for years.
What is important about that scene is that it sets up the scale of the battle that the trio are facing. It adds drama to the whole movie because the trio aren’t fighting just for their lives or just fighting voldemort but fighting for an ideal. An ideal that says the divisions between magical creatures, between wizards and between the magical and non-magical aren’t important. The ideal that we are all magical creatures are equal. I didn’t get that from the movie.
The other way in which they compromised the story is that they failed to show that magic goes deeper than waving a wand and shouting some incantations. The filmmakers failed to get across the intricacies of wandlore, the power of bravery, courage and of love.
The filmmakers failed to get across what Voldemort failed to learn. That being human, being able to love, being open to others, being open to ideas has far more power than being inhumane, cold, heartless and closed to everything.

Its is for those reasons, I can’t never say its a good movie. All this being said, there are some things that are done incredibly well. In the moments that it was bad, it was truly awful.

Verdict on the movie: 2/5

Verdict on the whole dvd: 3/5